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'Snakes on a Plane' Director David R. Ellis Dies at 60

David R. Ellis Getty Images

David R. Ellis, the stuntman turned filmmaker who brought us killer sharks, killer snakes and even the wrath of the Grim Reaper himself, died today in Johannesburg, South Africa, according to Deadline. He was 60.

Born in Los Angeles on Sept. 10, 1952, Ellis got his start in Hollywood as a stuntman, performing feats of derring-do in dozens of films, including "Scarface," "Lethal Weapon" and "Road House." He also served as second unit director on such big Hollywood productions as "Patriot Games," "The Negotiator," "The Matrix Reloaded," "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

Ellis will probably be best remembered for his work as a gleefully subversive exploitation director. After making his directorial debut on "Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco" (1996), Ellis seemed to feel the most at home in the action-horror genre, conjuring gruesome and often astonishingly creative death scenes in "Final Destination 2" (2003) and returning to the franchise with "The Final Destination" (2009). He also called the shots (and serpents) on "Snakes on a Plane," perhaps the most popular (and quoted) film on the Internet back in 2006, and brought on the watery (and bloody, at that) mayhem in "Shark Night 3D" (2011).

Ellis was in South Africa prepping his latest directorial effort, "Kite," a live-action adaptation of the popular 1998 anime about a young girl trained to be an assassin after her parents are killed. The film was set to reunite him with his "Snakes on a Plane" star, Samuel L. Jackson.

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